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Exhortation: D Harvey (Norwich)

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The New Testament refers to God very many times. It also refers to Jesus. However, it always makes a clear distinction between Jesus and God, particularly where the two are referred to in the same passage. The New Testament always refers to God as the Father of Jesus, and even as the God of Jesus. It doesn’t refer to Jesus as being God at all, and very definitely refers to Jesus as being on a level with the Father. The Old Testament promises a Messiah to come, but again there is always a distinction between the Messiah, who is described as the Son of God, and God himself.

The biblical distinction between Jesus and God is so strong that it is clear that the Bible does not regard Jesus as God. Instead it describes Jesus as the Son of God, and as the mediator between God and man.

"The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

First Mention of Heart in the Bible

Genesis 6:5-6 is the first mention of the heart - man and God in the Bible. It is a sad commentary on the state of man: "every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart."

Character

The heart is used metaphorically to describe being human (in Bible language as flesh or body) and personality or character.

Asaph writes in Psalm 73:26, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever". 

Speaking about moral qualities is spoken about in Psalm 131:1 where David writes,  "O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me". 

Eliab accuses David his youngest brother of displaying wickedness when he says,  "I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”

God through the mouth of Isaiah the prophet declares in regards to the follow of idol worship, "He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray"  (Isaiah 44:20)

Again God comments through Jeremiah the prophet that, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind" (Jeremiah 17:9-10)

We are called to "seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deut 4:29) and "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might" (Deut 6:5).

Thought, Intellect and Memory

According to the idiom of the Bible, thinking is a function of the heart. 

Asaph the psalmist writes in Psalm 77:6, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search". 

Silent prayer to God is described often as in the heart. For example,

"Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard" (1 Samuel 1:13).

"But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). 

Emotions

The heart is often used to denote the origins of emotions. 

God in conversation with Moses says about the joy Aaron would experience, "Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart" (Exodus 4:14).

We are warned not to “hate your brother in your heart" (Leviticus 19:17).

Fear is expressed as "hearts melt" when describing the emotion of the children of Israel when viewing "the hill country of the Amorites, which the Lord our God" promised them (Deut 1:28).

The heart is descried as the centre of desire, both negative and positive. Negative in relationship to the incident of Shechem (Genesis 34:3,8) and positive by David as he wrote in Psalm 37:4 "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart".

Intent or Will

Jesus reminds us that "what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false  witness, slander" (Matthew 15:19). Pharaoh is a classic example, being described as having a "hard heart" when it comes to his determination not to let the children of Israel leave Egypt (Exodus 4:14, 21; 7:3; 8:15).

It's not all doom and gloom. God commends those "every man whose heart moves him" to make a gift to Him in Exodus 25:2. 

God's Heart

Genesis 6:6 notes that the "Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart."

Hosea 11:8-9 notes "My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man". 

Interested in a Remedy for Spiritual Heart Disease?

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you" (Psalm 119:9-11).

"Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" (Psalm 139:23-24) 

"God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:8-9).

Heart Shape made with the hands

Inspired by the Bible Class by I Prentice and the entry for Heart in the book "Dictionary of Biblical Imagery: An Encyclopaedic Exploration Of The Images, Symbols, Motifs, Metaphors, Figures Of Speech, Literary Patterns And Universal Images Of The Bible" 

Background

God always reveals how he wants his people to live and how worship Him. 

Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do...” 

The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” Exodus 24:3, 12

We often have such short memories, forgetting God

God led his people through the wilderness as a pillar of cloud / fire.

"And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night". Exodus 13:21 

Today he leads us through the words of the Old and New Testament of Holy Scriptures.

Moses was gone 40 days and the people forgot their God and His ways, angering God. This brought consequences on the people who chose to turn away from the worship of the true God to the gods of Egypt.

"When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him...”

God said to Moses, "They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it" 

"the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book"

Exodus 32:1, 8, 33

God has promised the return of the Lord Jesus from heaven to the earth to set up the kingdom (Acts 1:11). Do we sometimes forget and return to the ways that are tempting and contrary to God's ways, forgetting who is leading us?

Let's be God Guided

We need to be guided by God's guide in our beliefs, values, behaviour. How do we do this? By reading and being guided by God's words. Let us be guided by Jesus' and the Berean followers examples:

Examples from the life of Jesus

Jesus answered using examples from Holy Scriptures - God's words. For example,

"the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But he [Jesus] answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
 but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:3-4

Jesus answered them, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” Matthew 22:29-32

Example from the Believers from Berea

"received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so" Acts 17:11

Let us remove the golden calves from our lives

God wants us to search our own hearts, consider what might be our golden calf(s), work to destroy these idols / temptations and return to him.

"What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God"...  Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded..  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:1-4, 8 & 10

"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus... he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." Philippians 2:5-11

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

Representation of the golden calf from Exodus 32